A recent work-trip to Yorkshire started with a eye-opening train journey. Just two hours from concrete jungle London and I was out in the open, travelling through deliciously fresh, green landscapes. I also had an opportunity to witness customer care first hand and actively consider the effect a company’s culture has on front line delivery.

My first experience was on my way northwards. A delightful ‘business class’ East Coast Trains attendant asked the gentleman opposite for his complimentary breakfast order. He requested both a bacon roll and some porridge, but the attendant politely replied that only one breakfast choice was allowed. The chap opposite said he was willing to pay, but the attendant said this was not company policy, but would of course see what he could do. When it came to my order, I requested porridge and asked the attendant to please give it to the first gentleman. The attendant was more than happy to do so and gave the gentlemen my porridge.

On my return journey I took the breakfast attendant up on his offer of porridge but because it was very thick asked for some milk to loosen the consistency. Again, the attendant was initially hesitant, but he promptly brought me some milk.

What’s interesting is that these attendants were obviously well trained, they were noticeably good at customer service, and they wanted us to enjoy the experience, so it jarred to witness company restrictions limiting customer care.

These team members had a natural aptitude for customer service and their company training had worked, but the company culture didn’t allow for entrepreneurial thinking. My confirming evidence – I scoured the menu and brochure with regards to the food delivery and customer service, and there wasn’t one address to feed back my experiences.

An integral part of customer service is that you have to give people permission to embrace and own ‘delivery of solution’. Nagging bosses saying, “Don’t do that” need to be replaced with “Yes, go for it”, demonstrating trust in their employees’ ability to understand the nuance of the situation. We fundamentally believe our teams know the best way to add the ‘cherry on top’ to any situation, because they know the customer best.

This approach is something we at bartlett mitchell are truly passionate about. Trust and the ability to innovate, combined with a common sense approach to resolving a situation, helps to make our customers’ day noticeably different and fundamentally better, every time. This, my friends (and any managers at East Coast Trains), is how customer service should really be done.

Delicious regards

Wendy Bartlett

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My earliest food memories are of my mum’s baking; coconut pyramid cakes were my favourite.

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